ARC Accepting Applications for New Initiative to Address Region’s Substance Abuse Crisis

  • September 3, 2020

INvestments Supporting Partnerships In Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE) Initiative Focuses on Recovery-to-Work Efforts as Part of Recovery Ecosystem

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 3, 2020—Today, in recognition of National Recovery Month, the Appalachian Regional Commission issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for INvestments Supporting Partnerships In Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE), a $10 million initiative to address the Region’s substance abuse crisis by creating or expanding a recovery ecosystem leading to workforce entry or re-entry. Awards made via the INSPIRE Initiative will support the post-treatment to employment continuum,which could include, among others, investments in healthcare networks that support substance abuse recovery professionals, recovery-focused job training programs, as well as initiatives designed to coordinate, or link, recovery services and training that support the recovery ecosystem, among others.

“Confronting the substance abuse crisis in the Appalachian Region has been a priority of President Trump and his administration, and I was encouraged when he signed into law legislation providing for these critical investments in the Region,” said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas. “The INSPIRE Initiative seeks to elevate the best ideas in the region to address the most critical needs communities face in creating recovery ecosystems, ideas that build a bridge to employment and encourage successful long-term recovery outcomes. I look forward to seeing the impact these investments will have in our communities to both save lives and strengthen economic opportunity.”

Competitive applications for INSPIRE should stress the potential for individuals in recovery to enter or re-enter the workforce, or maintain employment, with a special emphasis on employment retention, including basic and advanced training, soft skills development, up-skilling and establishing clear, defined career pathways in training programs that accommodate continued growth. Proposals can also include plans and initiatives supporting employers, industry and partnerships to meet workforce challenges supporting a recovery ecosystem.

Letters of Intent (LOI) for implementation grants up to $500,000 and planning grants up to $50,000 under INSPIRE are due October 16, 2020. The deadline for final applications is November 13, 2020. Award announcements are anticipated to be made Spring 2021. Additional information and resources are available at

In 2018, Appalachia had an overdose mortality rate among people ages 15-64 that was 48 percent higher than the rest of the country. At the same time, the overall opioid related overdose mortality rate was 46 percent higher in Appalachia than the rest of the country. INSPIRE draws on the work and recommendations developed by ARC’s Substance Abuse Advisory Council (SAAC) to address the disproportionate impact substance abuse continues to have on the Region’s workforce in comparison to the rest of the country.

Created in May 2019, the Council is a volunteer group of leaders from recovery services, health, economic development, private industry, education, state government, law enforcement, and other sectors representing each of the Region’s 13 states. In September 2019, the Council offered guiding recommendations to ARC for addressing the workforce impacts of Appalachia’s substance abuse epidemic. Many of the recommendations’ key themes were drawn from six Recovery-to-Work Listening Sessions hosted by ARC December 2018–April 2019. More information about the SAAC and their findings is available at

About the Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.